This is not the first time I am writing about my visit to Israel and I am pretty sure it will not be the last time either. To understand a bit better what it is with me and the “land of Milk and Honey” we need to go back in time a little:
After graduation I travelled to Paris with my best friend at the time. We met two boys there who turned out to be Israeli’s traveling through Europe. We became friends and upon their return to Israel we were invited to pay them a visit. During that visit I met another guy, fell in love with him but also with the country, its people and the language! After a year and a half I decided to give it a go, I packed up my stuff and when to live with him at his parents house. There were two minor complications. One; my boyfriend (and his entire family) did not speak any English besides yes and no, so learning the language was an absolute must. Two; I was not able to appreciate the food I was served at my boyfriends house. Authentic Iraqi food with lots of tomatoes. onions and bulgur. The latter being something I had never heard about before! So for the first few months I relied on Pizza, schnitzel, fries, Nutella and bread!😂
Anyway to make a very, very long story short, the relationship with that guy did not last and I returned to the Netherlands where a few years later I got married, started a family and finally turned vegan.
But my relationship with the country and the two guys I met in Paris back then time did continue. I have been traveling back and forth since then (1988) and have made many more new friends. In fact I consider my friends in Israel to be my best friends.
But so much for history, back to here and now.
If you happen to follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram it was hard to miss that I travelled to Israel for about 10 days at the end of last October. This time my trip was not only about visiting friends etc., it was also about traveling through “the land of Milk and Honey” as a vegan. I already knew that being vegan in Israel is extremely easy and cool, but thought it would be nice to let you in on just how easy in fact it is. So I made loads of pictures, visited many restaurants, of which many completely vegan and so on. Following is a summary of my experiences:
My trip was off to a good start with a vegan meal (see first picture) in the plane (ElAl). It actually was really tasty, so I was a happy camper and the fun had yet to begin!
When I am in Israel I always stay at my friend’s place. He had arranged for me a “focaccia” evening with all my friends gathering in his garden, a few hours after my arrival. I had brought vegan cheese with me for the occasion. None of my close friends are vegan, but they were all delighted and surprised about how good this cheese tasted!
The next morning I went to the beach in Tel Aviv to soak up that much needed sun we só lacked this summer in Holland. But first I made a stop at the Street’s, a hip place with many vegan options, open 24/7. I choose a simple but satisfying breakfast and rushed to the beach.
In the evening I paid one of Tel Aviv’s first completely vegan restaurants “Anastasia” a visit and choose a smooth chickpea-puree with fried mushrooms and cheesecake for desert. It was a tasty as it looks.
The next day of to Saroona market, a happy place with lots of fresh produce, lovely spices, nuts, dried fruits and lovely small restaurants.
Not entirely vegan but still many vegan options. I had a hard time to control myself and not buy everything I laid my eyes upon. After all I had my suitcase and its restrictions to consider! Maybe that was a good thing….
But I had to buy something! I chose to buy Halva and Tahini in different flavors, which I usually buy in Amsterdam, but since I was here anyway I saved myself a trip to the Dutch capital.
Of course I also had to try some of the food prepared at this inspiring place. I stumbled upon a stall tucked away in the farest corner of the market hall, selling oven-baked potatoes filled with vegetables in a sauce of some kind. I chose one with the vegan Alfredo sauce and toppings to choose from the counter. It was sheer heaven, absolutely delicious!
To finish it of I went outside, where there is more shopping to do and more restaurants to enjoy. I found myself vegan icecream (vanilla/forest fruits)! Needless to say that I was over the moon by so many vegan options, it was only day 3!!
The next day I paid a visit to the harbour (Namal Tel Aviv) and bought myself yet another vegan icecream. This time coconut and hazelnut. But as you can see below there were more options.
This happened all in Tel Aviv (and this is only a small selection of the food and drinks I had being on the go).
But then I went to stay with another friend who lives more north. She took me on a hikingtrip with a group of women. Destination: the north of Israel, near the Lebanese border, walking the fields and forests and learn about ancient ruïnes from Phoenician times etc.
We took lots of fresh fruit, veggies like carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes etc. with us and of course chickpea omelet sandwiches.
The next day she had to work so I offered to prepare her a vegan dinner ready for her to dig into when she would return from work. Naturally she happily accepted. While devouring my cooking she repeatedly exclaimed that maybe she should consider turning vegan. It seemed definitely worthwhile to her! (se post on FB Everyday Plantpower dated 24/10/2017)
It is a spicy sweet potato/pepper/onion roast from the oven served with a refreshing tomato-radish salad.
The next day on the move again. This time we had an appointment at a small family restaurant located in the Golan Heights. We had an amazing breakfast at this delightful place. This woman prepares the most amazing delicious vegan food. At this very moment she and I are in the process of exploring the possibilities to work together, more info about this exciting project will follow hopefully later this year!
There was so much food at the breakfast table that of course we were not able to eat it all. So a big hooray for the doggy bags!
After this enervating first few days I already felt that my mission was accomplished, but there was still more to come. Because I was to meet another friend more to the south of Tel Aviv and we were to have lunch. She is not a vegan and she was a bit nervous about preparing me a vegan lunch at her home. She did not have a clue as what to prepare me, so she simply invited me to an all-humus restaurant located in Rehovot. Located next to a gas station, so at first sight you would probably think that it was just your regular take away food for truck drivers and so on. Well you couldn’t be more wrong! Israel is packed with small restaurants like this and they are in fact little gems. They served humus like you have never had before. Incomparible to the humus we (Europeans/Americans/Australians etc) buy in supermarkets or are being served in local restaurants (unless they are middle-eastern restaurants of course). Humus with chickpeas, humus with falafel, humus with full (favabeans), the list of choices is pretty extended.
But the next day I went to a music gathering were guests and musicians improvise and play music together in a real authentic setting; a large tent with rugs all over the floor, low sofa’s at the edges, instruments for everyone to play (drums, guitars etc). Here too they served humus (and lots of other homemade vegan food) and they served it with on the spot baked flat pitah’s from a stone-oven. I’ll tell you, there is nothing like it!
And then last but not least, a Jeep trip in the Negev desert with final destination a dip in the Dead Sea.
These trips are with a group of friends who all own a 4×4 vehicle and go on a of-the-road-trip in the weekends. Sometimes to go north, sometimes south but always with a group and always with lots of food and Turkish coffee! Most of the vehicles have a fridge in the back and a camping cooking gear so bringing fresh food is not a problem.
Before we set out on our trip we had a breakfast of toasted olive-sourdough bread with my homemade vegan feta topped with some tomatoes and fresh cilantro leaves. For the road I prepared us a pastasalad with roasted pinenuts, kalamata olives, purple basil leaves and different types of cherry tomatoes. Others brought the most delicious salads, which to me is one of Israel’s specialties. Like an eggplant salad, root-salad (salad of everything that is a root, like carrots, celeriac, beetroot etc.) and a fresh herbs salad with dried cranberries and pinenuts.
Like I said, we ended our trip at the Dead Sea. Not at the part were the hotels are and thus the organized beaches for the tourists, but at the more northern part were the locals like to go. This is the unspoiled Dead Sea. An extraordinary peaceful place, 400 meters below sea level, with water so salt that there is no live possible (hence the name) and were because of that salt you will float effortlessly. The vista is stunning, looking out over the red hills of Jordan.
A good place to end my vegan journey, to kiss my friends goodbye until my next visit!
I hope you have enjoyed my “trip” as much as I have. I also hope I have clearified that traveling as a vegan in Israel is about as easy as it gets. If you want to know more about traveling to /in Israel or should you have any questions after reading this blog, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to be of any help whatsoever.
You also might want to read more so I would like to share the following link with you:
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